Children’s Innocence Vs Children’s Empowerment

By Sureya Kurji. Sureya, 16, lives in London, UK. She is a student at Bishop Romsey. Please read her article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

The word ‘child’ has many different meanings, in many different contexts. In legal terms, it refers to a person under the age of 18, although from your parents’ point of view, you’re a child forever no matter your age. However it can also be used as a synonym for someone acting in a foolish way, I know this because my friends often refer to my behavior as childish. A child however can also be used to refer to someone who has ‘little or no experience within an area’. While it may be true that children don’t have as much understanding of how the world works, the question as to why this is the case needs to be raised, instead of just writing children off.

When you were a baby, or a toddler, your parents might have placed you in a playpen, to enable you to play safely by being in a small enclosure. As you got older, that playpen may have been put into storage for the next child, or sold on eBay or been freecycled, but while it may have been removed from you physically, I do not believe it gets removed from you mentally.

Adults place a gate around our knowledge of the world. The more we learn, the further those gates are pushed back, but by how much is carefully controlled by our teachers, our parents and our mentors.

When I was in primary school, my teachers pushed the gates back by a centimeter by telling me to turn the lights off when I leave a room and to not leave the tap running while I brush my teeth, but they did not tell me this was to help battle global warming, they did not tell me that fossil fuel emissions need to decrease dramatically, or about the plastic pollution plaguing the world and so I always asked for a straw with my apple juice. My teachers carefully controlled what knowledge I learnt, and they showed me little answers to climate change, but they did not expose me to the true threat it posed and so I always asked to be driven somewhere I could have walked, and when I chewed on my straw so much it became unusable, I asked for another one.

The idea of a playpen is to keep the child safe, the enclosure minimizes the amount of risks. The bigger the playpen, the more space available to run into danger. I mentioned earlier that to a parent you’re a child no matter your age and a parent will always strive to keep their child safe, and maybe that is why growing up we were protected from the hazards global warming holds for our future but surely it is better to stand in the light and make active changes rather than sit in the dark and contribute to the issue unknowingly.

My family are active environmentalists and expose me and my cousins to the climate change crisis. My cousins, as young as 8, are taking part in school strikes and rallying for the government to start changing things. They walk wherever they can and favor reusable straws, and I would argue that they are safer now that their playpen is bigger rather than when it was smaller because they have knowledge to change their ways which will contribute to extending their future and increasing ecological security.

This idea can be applied to many other situations for example gangs, crime and sexual exploitation of children, an unpopular topic but unfortunately a relevant one. In an attempt to keep children as innocent as possible, many adults deliberately choose to not inform them of such horrors but I believe this to be a mistake. Francis Bacon said ‘knowledge is power’ and I believe in such a situation this is key. For example, we are always told to not submit to peer pressure, a very general statement which could apply to many scenarios but we are not told that if someone asks you to shoplift, it’s not because they’re ‘cool’ or because ‘everyone else is doing it’ but rather they are trying to entice you into criminal behaviour in order to exploit you further. Had more parents sat their children down and explained this, as my mum did to me, perhaps when asked to attack that pensioner ‘for a laugh’, they would have been able to see this for the initiation process that it is and stay away, and perhaps the youth crime rate wouldn’t be the issue it is today.

There’s a reason society used the word ‘child’ so often to describe someone inexperienced that it became part of the Oxford dictionary, and that reason is not down to the fault of children, it’s the adults who often only tell us the simple introductory facts and answers to the massive issues that afflict our lives, and they won’t give us the experience, the opportunity for us to show what we’re made off.

One example of this is the Brexit issue. 16 year old’s did not have a right to vote in this matter despite the fact that it would be them, who leaving the EU, whom it would matter most to. Who did have a right to vote however were old age pensioners who by the time the repercussions of Brexit would hit the UK, they would not be around to witness it. There’s a theory that if we were to have another referendum right now, the vote would swing the other way purely because all the 16 year old’s from three years ago now have a right to vote and most of the old age pensioners are now sadly deceased. Sitting in schools now, we’re told about the threat to the economy, but the majority of us sitting in those schools never wished for this to happen and yet we had no say in something that would control the majority of our lives and still we have to sit there, voiceless as we listen to the risks Brexit poses to our future opportunities and prosperity.

Roger Lewin said ‘too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve’, and I agree but I cannot blame adults wholeheartedly for keeping us in the playpen for their aim is too keep us as innocent as possible but there is a point where naivety becomes dangerous and therefore it is important to include us more in the situations happening around the world, so I implore you to think about what is more important to you; keeping the children in your life as innocent as possible, or empowering them by providing the knowledge about the issues relevant to our current society.

46 comments on “Children’s Innocence Vs Children’s Empowerment

  1. Alexander Johns on

    Wow, what a fantastic essay! I think this really addresses the problems in society, and how adults coddling children only increases the effects of those problems, due to the ignorance they often enforce on children.

    • Sian on

      Wow, this is great! I think you gave us a better understanding of what we have been told as children when we have limits on how much we know about global and UK issues.

      • Jesenka on

        Wow!!! What a great piece of essay… very educational and eye opening. Comparing how my parents brought me up like in cotton wool, nowadays we have to lead our children to be there to solve the problems themselves and be more involved in various issues of life.

        I am very proud of you Surey(k)a. Love you lots.xx

  2. Hannah on

    Woowwww this is inspiring and very insightful. It opens parents eyes and teens as we could look back on our childhood and see the impact it could have made if we were treated differently. I love this article and would recommend it to lots of others.

  3. Amar Nota on

    Excellent article Sureya,

    Truly eye opening and thought provoking.

    I hope everyone that reads it, puts it into practice for a better future for us all.

    Great Job x

    • Jackie salmon on

      Brilliant essay sureya. I believe as parents we all do our utmost to protect our children from the evil influences of the world but it is true we cannot wrap them in cotton wool and we should educate children to our utmost ability to give them the tools to deal with everyday life.

  4. Paul Coco-Bassey on

    Well done Sureya. I like the arrangement of carefully selected lexical items which serves to drum home you message. You should be a prof.

  5. Chris Kurji-Smith on

    Fantastic essay Sureya, well done!
    Expertly put together and very persuasive. Yes, give 16 year olds a say in their future! Us old folk need to trust your generation more. X

  6. Taz on

    Good point Sureya. The helicopter parenting Is extending to early 20-30’s of age and we are taking the ability to have common sense, independence, and critical thinking.

  7. Kristina on

    Just like the previous essay, this one is also really great Sureya!! It’s well written and the whole essay included awesome points! Well done !

  8. Kathleen Kurji on

    You write well and develop an argument persuasively very well done
    But reme5not all pensioners are brexiteers don’t lump us all together xxxxxx

  9. Charlotte on

    Great essay. It is very well written and you made good arguments with interesting facts. Well done. I am so proud of you and you have a talent for this xx love you xx 😊❤️

  10. Felix on

    The best part for me is seeing how much your writing has developed and how you structure your argument on the topic. As always I can’t wait to see what you do next and look forward to the next chapter!

    Sublime stuff Sureyka!


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